Whenever creating a presentation, I always spend too much time locating visuals I feel comfortable using to accompany my presentations’ main talking points. The central challenge here usually lies in finding something both high-quality enough and free. My current project, coding a CSS designed web site from the ground up, required I spend some time looking through fantastic nineteenth century (read copyright-free) illustrations. Even as I attempt to enhance my digital skills, I retain some partiality for art originally designed by hand in some material form. In my search, I became reacquainted with the works of the illustrious (heh) artist Howard Pyle, best known for retelling, with striking illustrations, many traditional fairy tales and legends, among them those concerning Robin Hood and King Arthur. Though Pyle’s art sometimes represented scenes from American history, the Middle Ages seem to have been a favorite time period of study (though he did not burden himself much with nailing historical accuracy). Pyle’s depictions of pirates also gave us the iconic Gypsy-like attire American pop culture now associates with the pirate.
This rediscovery led me to discover an invaluable treasury at ClipArt ETC, a free resource, hosted by the University of South Florida, of nearly 70,000 compelling copyright-free illustrations made available for educational use by teachers and students. Some of the illustration categories: Arts and Architecture, American History and Government, Ancient and Medieval History, Animals, … Literature …. and it goes on and on. I can’t imagine any educator who would have no use for such a resource. And, if illustrations aren’t your thing, USF’s Florida Center for Instructional Technology also offers ClipPixETC, a gallery of photographs, Presentations ETC, dedicated to presentational elements from styled letters and numerals to nineteenth century paper people, and Maps ETC, a database of scanned maps from around the world and many, many time periods.